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Singapore Grand Prix 2023

Stoddie Straight: Red Bull suspicions, Sainz's momentum and Lawson promise

RacingNews365's expert columnist, former Formula 1 team principal Paul Stoddart reflects on the Singapore GP, questioning Red Bull and wondering if there's been a shift at Ferrari.

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To news overview © XPBimages

The Singapore Grand Prix was a complete culture shock to what we've expected all year from Red Bull and Max Verstappen.

And to be honest, I'm not sure that is is just a bad weekend on set-up. I just can't help but think a team of Red Bull's quality and a driver of Verstappen's quality chase the set-up for the whole weekend and end up a second off the pace.

I think this new technical directive might have had a bit more effect than what we think, but that will become clear in a few days time in Japan.

Red Bull is far too good a team to be chasing the set-up as they claimed they were making multiple changes.

They were there or thereabouts in Free Practice 1 and there's a lot of reasons for that because the track was totally green, but after that, they were virtually nowhere to be seen.

I'm a little bit suspicious - and I may be wrong - about the technical directive with the wings, because if a team like Red Bull know it is going in the wrong direction on setup, it knows how to fix it.

If you listen to the comments of both drivers, they were chasing the set-up all weekend, and that can happen for sure, but the quality and depth of Red Bull make me a little bit suspicious that it is a bit more than set-up.

We will see whether or not they are back where they've been all year or if there is an issue with the car, but it was definitely a weekend I'm sure both drivers, particularly Sergio Perez, would want to forget.

Yet again, Sergio had a mishap on his final run, spinning again and just adding to far too many mistakes in qualifying and making the races very difficult.

As for Max, it was quite interesting to see Liam Lawson knock him out of Q3 by 0.007s - that would have been an interesting discussion in both the Red Bull and AlphaTauri debriefing rooms later on!

Be that as it is, Max recovered well to fifth position and was knocking on the door of Charles Leclerc for fourth place.

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	© XPBimages

Sainz is Ferrari leader?

I am not being unkind to Charles, but I've always kind of thought that Carlos Sainz was the better of the two.

When given the chance, and he's had that chance this year where he's out-qualified his team-mate and put it on pole two races in succession, he's oozing with confidence.

You are seeing the true Carlos Sainz come out now, and if Ferrari can keep pace with the upgrades, which now seems to be between Ferrari and Mercedes as sadly Aston Martin has dropped behind.

Sainz is definitely moving forward and is now the stronger leader of the two Ferrari drivers.

It was the kind of dominance that we're used to seeing from Red Bull, and Sainz really applied himself.

Not only in qualifying and taking pole - one could argue that Leclerc was a bit quicker in the first two sectors but messed it up in the final sector, but that is not to take anything away from Carlos.

What impressed me the most was the last 10-15 laps when he kept giving Lando the DRS. That was a well-thought-out plan and it saved the race victory.

It was also good to see Frederic Vasseur get up there on the podium to take his first Constructors' trophy as boss of Ferrari. It was a good weekend all around for them.

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	© XPBimages

Lawson must be in for 2024

I'm not being funny, but AlphaTauri has to be serious.

Since the death of Dietrich Mateschitz, there have been no guarantees, and if there is a lack of performance, there's going to be changes.

You have to look at it and say that Liam Lawson has done enough to earn that seat for next year, without doubt.

Then you have to deliver, but what are you going to do with Daniel Ricciardo, is he going to go alongside Lawson, or replace Tsunoda?

There is a lot of soul-searching and interesting discussions to be had, but clearly, for my money, if I was back running that team, I would have Liam Lawson and Daniel Ricciardo in my team next year.

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	© XPBimages

F1 2023 Singapore Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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